Although put and call options are quite common in investment agreements, its enforceability under Indian law has been in serious doubt due to age-old provisions in securities laws which have not been updated to meet with the requirement of the times. I have discussed the issue in detail in this paper and also called “for a reconsideration of the legal regime so that physically settled options that are customary in investment agreements may be treated as valid and legally enforceable”.
Although this issue has been on the anvil for a long time, now there seems to be some tangible movement towards resolution. News reports indicate that the Law Ministry has, based on a proposal from the Finance Ministry, decided to permit options in investment agreements.
It is not clear how the revisions will be effected. It could be done simply by way of a notification by SEBI amending/repealing its earlier notification of March 1, 2000, which put paid to these options. The other alternative would be to amend the Securities Contracts (Regulation) Act, 1956 (SCRA), which is perhaps both unnecessary and more cumbersome given that the intervention of Parliament will be required.
It is too early to be euphoric because the devil is always in the detail!